I posted this as a comment over on Becoming Minimalist and, since it was a pretty long comment, I decided it could become my own blog post. Of course, I've edited it a little, because the writing is never finished. :~)
My kids are 13 and 11 and I've purged their rooms about once a year for their lives to date, including twice for moves where I've gotten rid of multiple Hefty bags of stuff. Amazingly, stuff keeps accumulating.
I recently read a quote somewhere about letting kids have some freedom of expression in how they live, including a messy space if they want it, so this year I've decided to let them live in their own space with these caveats:
1. No food in bedrooms. Also, no old food wrappers that were left in pockets. If bugs might like it, it cannot come upstairs.
2. I only do laundry that is in hampers (I will *not* pick things up off the floor or go searching for dirty clothes). So, if you want it for school, get it in a hamper or wash it yourself.
The fact that I still do their laundry is mighty nice, I know, although I didn't start doing most of my laundry until college (thanks, Mom). This niceness may end if I get back to work full time.
3. The floor must be *completely* clear once every two weeks for the cleaning lady so she can vacuum, dust and make beds. I don't care where it goes, but the stuff has to be hidden. :~)
I tried living without Patricia for a few months, but I find I just do not have the physical ability (ask me sometime about my early menopause and my lousy back) to do serious housework anymore. Serious planning went into making budget room for her. After Scott, she is the number one person I want to make happy.
4. I just remembered another: Homework is done downstairs in the common area so that I can monitor it being done and watch it go back into backpacks, which also live downstairs. This will probably work as both are in middle school now, plus they both prefer to have company while doing almost *everything*.
To implement the above, I went through and cleared all the floors in their rooms by putting everything in clear bins and stacking them up in the closet and around the edge of the rooms. I offered to help them sort any time they want, but I warned them that my style is to toss A LOT a la Peter Walsh, so no one has taken me up on this offer yet.
I don't know yet how this social experiment is going to work. It's been almost two weeks and I have to just close the doors to their rooms (especially the girl with clothes EVERYWHERE) to avoid looking at the mess. I didn’t come to a simplified life until my late 20’s and minimalism until my late 30’s, so it may take a while until they drink the kool aid with me.